Koshari (Egyptian Rice, Lentils and Macaroni with Spicy Tomato Chile Sauce)

KoshariSo this dish is great for those that love carbs! Known as one of the national dishes of Egypt, you can find this inexpensive dish served on street carts throughout the cities. Note of forewarning, this recipe does call for multi-tasking and having several pots cooking at once, however, not much needs to be done to those pots once they are cooking away. I am also including a recipe for the spice blend used in this recipe. It is fairly simple to make and you can do it up in bulk and keep on hand for dishes that you want to add a Middle-East taste to. This recipe will serve 6, and the spice mixture in the measurements shown will make just less than half a cup of the blend, enough for this recipe and a few more dishes.

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups medium grain rice
1 ½ cups brown lentils
3 cups small macaroni
3 cups vegetable stock
1-2 garlic cloves, quartered
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 bay leaves
¾ teaspoon salt

For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 (796ml) can crushed/pureed tomatoes
1 tablespoon baharat spice blend (see recipe below)
¼ – ½ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Crispy Onion Garnish:
3 large onions, finely sliced
Oil for deep-frying
1 (540ml) can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rice and fry it for 2 minutes, then add the vegetable stock. Bring it to a boil, decrease the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

Meanwhile, rinse the lentils under cold water and add them to another medium saucepan with 2 cups of water. Add the garlic, cumin and bay leaf and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Once cooked, add the salt and stir to combine. Strain any excess liquid if necessary.

Cook the macaroni according to package instructions until al dente.

To make the sauce:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add the tomato sauce, baharat, salt and pepper to taste, chili flakes (if using) and red wine vinegar. Bring it to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To make the crispy onions:
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions and fry until dark brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the oil and place them on paper towels to drain and cool.

To Serve:
Add the rice, lentils and macaroni to a large bowl and toss to combine (or simply scoop out desired amounts of each onto the plates). Sprinkle a little baharat over each portion and serve topped with some of the spicy tomato sauce. Top with garbanzo beans, the crispy onions and another sprinkle of baharat. Serve warm.

Baharat (Middle Eastern Spice Blend)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds
1½ tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and dry roast the whole spices/seeds (except for the paprika, cinnamon and nutmeg) until they become very fragrant, about 3-5 minutes, tossing regularly to prevent burning. Transfer them to a bowl and allow them to cool completely before grinding them in a spice or coffee grinder along with the paprika, cinnamon and nutmeg. Keep stored in an airtight glass jar.

Spicy Tuna Pashtida

Tuna PashtidaFor those of you not in the know, a Pashtida (pash-ti-DA), is the Hebrew word a savoury pie, quiche or casserole. This fish recipe originally came from a family friend and neighbour, Esther Prisman, but we’ve made a few changes to adapt to the tastes of our family. The biggest change is that ours is more tomato-y with a can of diced tomatoes added, rather than two tomatoes, peeled and diced. Note, the tastes of my family seem to include lowering the intensity of the labour needed, as opening a can is a heck of a lot easier than peeling and dicing! You can also use pre-sliced olives, rather than cutting them up yourself. This can either be made as a large casserole, or as individual spring rolls for a fun appetizer!

Ingredients:

2 small onions, chopped
1 (796ml) can diced tomatoes
½ – 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
½ – ¾ cup green olives, sliced (about 15 olives)
2 cans tuna, drained
salt and pepper, to taste
1 package puff pastry dough (for casserole)
sesame seeds (for garnish)
~ or ~
1 package egg roll wrappers (for spring rolls)
oil for frying

Directions:

In a sauté pan, cook onions, tomatoes, chili flakes, olives, tuna, salt and pepper until all the liquids have evaporated. If making a casserole, take half of the pastry dough and place on the bottom of a baking dish. Spoon on the filling mixture, and then top with remaining half of dough. Make a light egg wash (one egg and some water, beaten) and brush the top of the dough. Score the top of the casserole and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

If preparing as individual spring rolls, spoon about a tablespoon or so of the filling on to an egg roll wrapper. Roll the wrapper up, tucking in the sides. Seal with water or egg wash along the edges. To cook the rolls, there are two options: You can either fry them in a sauté pan, with a few tablespoons of oil, until brown and crispy; or you can place them in a 375 degree oven on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes, until brown and crispy.